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Editorial: Healthy competition promises big rewards

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For many of us, controlling our weight is a never-ending battle.

But thanks to a Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County we have an ally.

The health organization started another round of Dump Your Plump this week. The competition runs through March 29, so it’s not too late to form a team. While the most successful teams will win some prize money, the real payoff is better health for all the participants.

Dump Your Plump encourages people to get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days each week. Teams of four to 10 set goals for weight loss, and the teams that meet the goals the most during the 10-week span of the competition could win $1,000. Teams can be a mix of friends, family, co-workers or anyone else who wants to get fit.

“Whether someone has a little or a lot of weight to lose, it doesn’t matter. It helps you with whatever journey you need to take,” said Penny Bramner, a Needham resident and three-time participant in Dump Your Plump.

The competition asks team members to exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Participants also are asked to set a reasonable weight-loss goal. Computer software tabulates points for the teams based on the goals met.

The weight-loss aspect ensures people eat right. The exercise mandate makes them healthier and helps establish a routine that keeps the weight off, said Beth Ross, program operations coordinator for Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County.

The program has become increasingly popular with area businesses, Ross said. Part of that has been a push for workplace wellness, with businesses actively encouraging their employees to be healthier to help lighten the load of insurance costs.

Individual businesses are going above the $1,000 team prize, adding incentives such as additional money to the team members who have best met their goals. Last year, Johnson Memorial Hospital offered a $500 prize to the employee who had the most success, Ross said.

To help other businesses, the hospital also has provided a mobile wellness team to go to businesses and talk to them about keeping fit. REMC and Mutual Savings Bank participated.

“They promote Dump Your Plump as a way to win points for their own wellness program. It’s a good way to motivate them. We’re a staple in a lot of their programs,” Ross said.

Dump Your Plump began in 2004, and since then, 26 rounds of the competition have been conducted. The last round was from September to December and featured 56 teams, said Lorri Lefevers, program liaison with Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County.

Of the 376 participants, 95 met or exceeded their weight-loss goals. More than 2,200 pounds were lost in total, an average of almost six pounds per person.

Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County is truly a grassroots initiative involved in several health issues, such as helping smokers quit and expectant mothers before their babies are born.

Dump Your Plump is one of its most successful programs because it’s fun as well as helpful.

So if you’re thinking of trying to shed some weight, form a team and sign up. Everyone involved will end up a winner.

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